Christians can file for divorce without adultery allegation

LAHORE: A petition challenging a provision of Christian Divorce Act 1869, according to which a Christian couple can dissolve their marriage only due to allegation of adultery, has been allowed by the Lahore High Court. Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah said that the Christians would be free to dissolve their marriage in a dignified way without accusing each other of adultery. He said the restored section 7, which was suspended by then military ruler Zia ul Haq in 1981, through an ordinance, would enable the couples for dissolution of marriage giving reasons in a verdict detail.

Amin Masih had filed petition for restoring the Section 7, through Advocate Sheraz Zaka, saying that he wanted to dissolve his marriage and to divorce his wife without accusing her of adultery.

The lawyer said, in UK a moderate way is provided to both Christian man and woman for the dissolution of the marriage and to part their ways with mutual consent, while in Pakistan , this ground is not available for them, and section 10 was in conflict with the dignity of woman. He argued that protection of minorities was one of the features of Constitution of Pakistan, therefore the omission of section 7 of the Divorce Act 1869 through the ordinance should be declared unconstitutional.

In this case, the chief justice had also taken opinion from the Christian religious leaders and scholars. Federal Minister for Human Rights Senator Kamran Michael had also given his opinion that divine laws could not be changed. Though, PML-N MPA Mary Gill had stated that the Divorce Act was discriminatory in nature as the Constitution provided equal rights to men and women.

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